Monday, April 11, 2016

#carbonaragate: Marketing fail, or brilliant troll?

Europeans are very entertaining sometimes.

Last month, French lifestyle site demotivateur posted a video recipe for a pasta "alla Carbonara" that was nothing like the eggy spaghetti dish beloved by Italians.

Even among Italians, there are variations in the recipe, which is a "tradition" less than a century old. However, the French version almost seemed like a parody of French food by Italians. Dry pasta, bacon, and onions are simmered in water, then the mix is tossed in crème fraîche and cheese and pepper sprinkled on. Finally, a raw egg yolk is cracked on top. What?

The video went viral in Italy, according to Huffington Post, with Italians loudly bemoaning the "death of carbonara."

But let's look at that video again.

Nice product placement, eh? When I first saw the original video (now gone) I swear I saw Barilla branding at the end as well. I suspect, as some Italian commenters do, that this was just a piece of content marketing gone awry.

And yet the company denied everything on the Sai cosa mangi? Facebook Page, and offered a link to alternative recipes on their own site.

So, either this was rogue content marketing by Barilla's French team that went very badly, or it was a brilliant trolling of Italians. Either way, Barilla is benefiting from clicks, mentions, and visits by outraged Italians and curious foreigners.


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